I have never been the most flexible person. In fact, I played volleyball in high school and I was constantly injured so I spent a lot of time in the training room, which means a lot of time on ice, heat, STEM, and stretch, and I was SO un-flexible that we celebrated any time my legs got to 90 degrees. It wasn’t that I didn’t stretch! I did! Just not often or long enough, apparently. Today, I can almost put my palms on the ground and after an hour of yoga, focused on hamstrings, I usually can.
I tried yoga once while in college at Texas State University.. I hated it. It was the most awful vile thing I had ever experienced. At this point in my life, I hated stretching. I worked out and ran, but the only time I would stretch was in group warm-ups, when everyone was stretching, but looking back that does not count because touching your toes and counting to ten is not stretching. I should tell you now that stretching is not the only reason to do yoga, nor is it the primary reason, but at 19, I didn’t know that. I walked into that yoga class thinking it was going to be calm and serene stretching, but by the end of the class I was soaked in sweat, had fallen a few times, and my ego was bruised. I didn’t go back… until last year.
I started practicing yoga in a rec room inside the OKC Lighthouse in September 2012, with a wonderful woman named Judy. Judy was somewhere between her late 70s – early 80s and had been practicing yoga her whole life. This is when I first realized that yoga was not just stretching; Judy looked like she could not be a day over 65. (Not to get off topic, but this realization has held true in every woman I have met that practices yoga; something has taken years off their looks.) I spent three months in that rec room with Judy, and my roommate Allison, learning how to practice yoga. On my first day, I walked in, grabbed a mat and sat near a wall; I later learned the wall part was a bad choice because I have monkey arms. The lights turned off, incense were lit, and they started the practice with deep breathing through the nose. All of this was foreign to me, but I went along with it because everyone else seemed to enjoy the idea, and I was there for a new experience. We began that day with what I now know are sun salutations, however a the time I was pretty sure I was doing a slower version of burpees. Up, Down, Up, Swan Dive, Jump, Push, Pull, Fall, was essentially the order I went it. After 30 minutes, my arms were burning, my mat was slick, and breathing through my nose was not an option; I was out of shape. At the end of class, I thanked the teacher, wiped the pool off of my mat, and left wondering what the hell just happened in there. But I went back. Somewhere in the next few classes, Judy taught me how to flow properly. Then I learned the Warriors. And by the end of my three-month subscription at OKC Lighthouse, I could generally keep up with the easier modifications of poses. I didn’t notice a difference immediately, or at any given time, it just got a little less difficult day by day; even so, my favorite pose is still savasana.
After I left the Lighthouse, I decided to go to a studio dedicated to yoga. I started off at Cadence Yoga, in midtown in January of 2013. I loved Cadence! It had a wonderful class schedule and amazing teachers. I absolutely grew as a yogi under that roof. I learned more about practicing yoga mentally, not just physically. It was here that I decided that yoga need to be a part of my everyday life. Michael finally decided to join me in my yoga adventure after going to Mandy Lathan’s (the owner) class one time. We both committed to a month of unlimited yoga at Cadence, and we went as often as possible. Unfortunately for us, Cadence was going abroad in February, so it was time to say goodbye and find another studio. We spent a month visiting studios all over Oklahoma City. Thankfully, most of the studios around here will let you try your first class for free, so that you get a feel on what their studio is like. We loved all of the studios, but none of them had that special feeling, until we discovered The Yoga Room. Mandy had suggested The Yoga Room a few times before she left, but we were still hesitant and looking for a place with similar student pricing. In March, The Yoga Room picked up Cadence’s prices and teachers, so we went to try it out, and we never left.
I guess this month is my one year anniversary with yoga. I must say that I have grown the most under the Yoga Room roof. They have amazing teachers, a warm, inviting atmosphere, and that special something that I can’t actually put into words. I have learned so much about yoga and the effect it has on the body. I even gave a speech about it at IgniteOKC. Fortunately for me (and you), Ignite has posted the videos from the event, so now you can listen to my five minute talk on why you should do yoga, instead of reading it!
I named this post “Why You Should Do Yoga” and the answer is not just one thing. It is everything. It is community, friendship, health, fitness, and spirit.